At the parish this week, lots of names coming in for prayers. It wasn’t really a function of the pastor and I settling the wording on Wednesday and me copying the two versions (though it seems there’s a law governing this)–one for the Missal excerpt book at the chair, and the other for the deacon at the ambo. Since Wednesday, four additions to the list of sick parishioners, one of whom shifted to the prayer for the deceased, and then word came that a much-loved retired priest passed away in his sleep a few nights ago.
I think I’ve softened from my more hardcore days of suggesting the intercessions should be general, like the adjective that describes them.
Our lists have grown substantial. Due to the coronavirus, I think. Currently, I cycle about two thirds of the names on alternate Masses on alternate weekends and one-third of the recent names are mentioned every week.
What do you think? Is a prayer chain enough? Is a book somewhere in the church enough? Should everybody be mentioned for long-term illness, or is a time limit better? These days, I’m inclined to leave people on it. It could be that I’m the only person even close to fretting about it.
Specificity is fine … when placed within more universal/general petitions. Specificity should not be news-driven.
My situation is very different here in Honduras. I serve at a Celebration of the Word with Communion almost every Sunday morning in a rural village. There are usually between 20 and 60 people attending. (There are more than 45 places of worship in our parish and the pastor usually presides at five or more Masses each weekend, usually in the main towns.)
There is a custom here in the Masses to have intentions read at the beginning of Mass. Our pastor also includes these in the Prayers of the Faithful and includes the names of those who have died in the Eucharistic Prayer.
When I am in a rural village, I usually add at least two petitions to the Prayers of the Faithful – one for the sick and one for those h=who have died. I usually invite people to mention the names of the sick and the deceased.
I think it’s important that people have the opportunity to express personally their concerns for the sick they know – by name. First of all, to remember that we are part of the Body of Christ and when one suffers, all ought to “suffer with” them. It can also be consoling to hear the name of a loved one who is suffering. In addition, recalling someone by name can be a way of calling people to respond to the person suffering and their family.
I realize that this calling forth from the assembly may not be possible in many large assemblies, but I think it is important to hear the names of the sick and the deceased who are not just sick people or people who’ve died. They have names and histories and families.
Of course, limits may have to be set but I remember an experience I had almost thirty years ago in a village in rural El Salvador, just after the civil war ended. As part of our Lenten observances, we spent one session recalling the dead and left time to mention their names. As we prayed, the names kept coming. For me, it was almost overwhelming, the intensity of the grief and the many who had been killed, some brutally. But I imagine that is was for many a path toward healing.
Between 25-30 years ago, I remember accompanying a friend of mine to Sunday services at the Montreal cathedral of the Anglican Church of Canada on Remembrance Sunday in November; there was not only a full honor guard, but at one point in the service they read the names of all the war dead from the World Wars (World War I was the really long list) – that portion of the service alone lasted more than an hour in itself.